The selection on my Kindle was a bit dull so couple of weeks ago I decided to download a book that would get me excited for my trip to France. Paris Was Ours is a collection of 32 memoirs written by people from every corner of the world. The authors write about their unforgettable experiences with The City of Light: good and bad.
I have yet to finish the book but one of the memoirs, Fledging Days by Valerie Steiker, has stuck with me since I read it. Valerie writes about the strong admiration she had for her mother for moving to Paris and living a chic life there as a young twenty-something. She writes about her very romanticized views of Paris based on her mother’s experiences. At the age of 23, Valerie decided to cross the pond and move to Paris just as her mother did at the same age.
Upon arriving Valerie’s expectations of her new home were through the roof. She wanted the perfect life in the perfect city. She accepted a job working in the PR field for a very important firm. She quickly learned that the boss was more like a drill sergeant and each day brought new terrors. She worked long hours and was constantly put down by her boss. This was not the life she had expected in Paris.
After only one month she decided to quit. Soon after a family friend asked her to go on a duck hunting trip. She was unfamiliar with how the whole ducking hunting thing worked so she observed. When the group of hunters sounded the horn to make their presence known at the lake, hundreds of ducks began swarming in the air. Before she knew it the dogs were leaping into the water to gather the dead ducks. Through the chaos she noticed the ducks that made it out alive were the ones that didn’t fly straight into the air. The ones that survived were the ones who stayed grounded and escaped to the woods. She compared this occurrence to her own life. Maybe her expectations of moving to Paris were too high which is why she was so gravely disappointed. She called this the Flying Duck Theory: a reminder to stay grounded and not get carried away with unjust excitement.
I think we can all relate to Valerie’s tale in one way or another. How often do you find yourself creating unreasonable expectations in your own life? It could be a future job, a relationship, a friendship, an upcoming move or vacation. We create these glamorized expectations of what we want and when we don’t get what we had expected we find ourselves feeling defeated and uninterested.
Since reading this memoir a few weeks ago I have tried to apply the Flying Duck Theory to my own life. Whether it be a person I will be meeting, a new place I will be visiting or a new restaurant I’m trying out, I’ve been trying to leave my expectations at the door and just enjoy whatever the new experience may bring. I will admit, it’s not easy. But I’m slowly learning that by having non-existent expectations, I have a more open mind and there are much less disappointments. I hope this encourages you to possibly apply Valerie’s theory to your life as well!
On a totally separate note, I found myself in Sri Lanka last week!
The cheapest flight from Thailand to Paris consisted of a 15 hour layover in Sri Lanka, a small country off the coast of India. I booked it and figured I would just find a cozy place to sleep at the airport. When I checked in for my flight I was informed that the airline (Sri Lankan) had paid for a hotel in Negumbo, Sri Lanka for the 15 hours that I would be there. I was of course, overjoyed.
We landed around 10:30am and although I was running on about four hours of sleep, I checked into the hotel and immediately started exploring the area. The hotel wasn’t close to anything so I asked how I could get to the city center. They offered their taxi service for $30. Knowing it was only a few minutes down the road I inquired about using the public bus system. They graciously explained how to use it and before long I was standing on the side of the road in Sri Lanka waving down bus number 240. I always get a kick out of the locals faces when they see a tall, blonde girl boarding the local bus or eating at a local restaurant. It really is priceless.
I hopped on the bus, grabbed a seat, paid my fare ($0.20) and immediately regretted it. I quickly learned that the rules of the road in Sri Lanka are the following: there are no rules of the road in Sri Lanka. Buses, tuk-tuks, motorbikes and pedestrians all weave in out of traffic taking no caution whatsoever. The locals didn’t seem phased by the constant horn honking and yelling so I just sat tight and prayed I wouldn’t witness any traumatic accidents!
When I got off the bus at the city “center” I realized that there really wasn’t really much going on. The tourist websites explained Negumbo as the city in Sri Lanka with luxury hotels on the beach. I tried to explain to my driver that this is where I wanted to go. I figured this would be close to something! Well, he thought I needed a place to stay so he dropped me off at a dumpy hostel. The language barrier proved to be a problem so I got out and started walking on my own. I was close to turning around and going back to my hotel when a different tuk-tuk driver started chatting with me. I usually brush them off and continue walking but this guy actually seemed interested in talking so I let him show me around. He even helped me bargain with a local shop owner! He then offered to bring me to a 600 year old temple and then back to the bus station. I wasn’t interested in paying more money on tuk-tuks but he gave me a good price. I agreed and we were on our way!
The temple was absolutely astonishing. The ancient site was very well preserved. The artwork and statues were a treat to the eyes. As the monk showed us around and explained some of the history I continued to take pictures of every little thing! Unfortunately, I discovered later in the day that the camera was missing my memory card, which I why I don’t have many photos of my visit in Sri Lanka. I guess I’ll leave it to your imagination =)
I braved the ride back to the hotel for my complimentary dinner. I walked into the hotel restaurant in my oversized hippie pants and sweater and was greeted by about five servers. I was waited on hand and foot the entire meal, something I am not used to. It actually made me feel quite uncomfortable. Do I really need someone picking up my crumbs? It was nice because it was FREE but I don’t think fine dining is my cup of tea.
My visit to Sri Lanka was far too short but as always, it was amazing to have the opportunity to see and experience a new country and culture. I landed in Paris on Saturday morning and have been eating heaps of baguettes, cheese, pastries and French wine. If you don’t recognize me when I get home because I’ve gained 100lbs, I blame Paris! Cheers for now!